Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Finally...our 19 day glorious October 2007 (very long detailed) trip report to Italy!

Finally...our 19 day glorious October 2007 (very long detailed) trip report to Italy!

Old Mar 27th, 2008, 05:24 PM
  #121  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 34
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
bookmarking.
devedi is offline  
Old Mar 27th, 2008, 06:16 PM
  #122  
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 301
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Wonderful adventureseeker! I love reading long detailed trip reports so please keep it up! Just think of the great record you have to print off and add to your photo/scrap album.

Can't wait to hear the rest.

Naxos
NaxosTravels is offline  
Old Mar 28th, 2008, 03:53 AM
  #123  
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 91
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Wow!!! Such a detailed report! Well done u!

Like u, I love researching and planning a trip ages in advance (usually when I should be doing work lol)and thats how I happened across ure report.... last year I planned a 3 week trip to California and Vegas for myself and 2 friends - very jelous of u living in California lol we loved it there!!

Well...Im planning a surprise trip to Italy for a week in May for my bfs birthday (we live in Glasgow, Scotland and he thinks we're staying somewhere in the UK for the week, he's never been to Italy before so cant wait to see his face when I tell him!) we're going to Florence for 3 nights spending one day hiring a car and exploring Tuscany then driving up to La Spezia to get the train to Manarola in the Cinque Terre for 3 nights - hoping to get up to Portofino one day. Then train back to Pisa for our last night before flying back to Glasgow early doors.... so I have picked up loadsa tips so far from ure trip - Thanks!!! Sounds like u had an amazing time.. looking forward to reading the rest of ure report! Carole x x
carolemg is offline  
Old Mar 29th, 2008, 07:57 AM
  #124  
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 11
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi,

I was wondering where you stayed in Cinque Terre and if you'd recommend it.

Thanks very much!
janok is offline  
Old Apr 7th, 2008, 10:00 AM
  #125  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 750
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Buon giorno all!

I'm back and will get working on the next installment <u>no later than tomorrow!</u>

I'm glad you're enjoying (as I am in writing/sharing). Yes, this will (finally) be my journal all neat and organized (and legible...to boot!)

Grazie once again for your kind words.

Sarge56, you are totally right about the &quot;uno per due&quot;. Mostly our servers were very cool about us sharing, but we definitely saw that it wasn't the norm.

janok,
La Mala Inn http://www.lamala.it/en/index.html HIGHLY recommend it. Our next trip to CT will revolve around the dates that we can book OUR room #19 at La Mala. The inn has become insanely popular and at only 4 rooms, it's the only place we'll stay in CT. If you can't get a room there, find another in Vernazza...you won't want to leave this charming town.
adventureseeker is offline  
Old Apr 7th, 2008, 12:24 PM
  #126  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 750
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
carolemg,

What a fab surprise you are planning. During May you can probably take a boat up to Portofino for the day. Here's a link to the boat service (in case you don't already have it)

http://www.navigazionegolfodeipoeti..../eng/index.php

sarge56,

My mouth is watering after I read about your meal at Semidivino. I have thus noted it as a &quot;must&quot; for our NEXT trip to Florence.

Grazie!
adventureseeker is offline  
Old Apr 7th, 2008, 12:47 PM
  #127  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 750
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
janok,

I'm jetlagged. We were in <b>ROOM #26</b> at La Mala. This room has the fab bonus room downstairs....heaven!
adventureseeker is offline  
Old Apr 8th, 2008, 10:10 AM
  #128  
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 834
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Welcome home adventureseeker. I saw you back on the Hawaii forum - can't wait to hear about that trip too.
bfrac is offline  
Old Apr 8th, 2008, 10:41 AM
  #129  
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 3,790
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I am soooo looking forward to reading this over the weekend!
marigross is offline  
Old Apr 8th, 2008, 03:50 PM
  #130  
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 5,741
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
adventureseeker-

&lt;&lt;My mouth is watering after I read about your meal at Semidivino. I have thus noted it as a &quot;must&quot; for our NEXT trip to Florence&gt;&gt;

We also had the beef carpaccio (out of this world!) and the steak with mushrooms and black truffles- again, a fabulous choice! Really loved this restaurant. Here is address: Semidivino, Via S. Gallo 22/R.
sarge56 is offline  
Old Apr 8th, 2008, 11:14 PM
  #131  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 750
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
<b>CINQUE TERRE-PART 4

DAY 8 (October 18, 2007 Thursday)

<u>THE START OF A GREAT DAY</u></b>
The plan was to rise and shine early to get our hiking underway. We originally planned to do a short hike (above Vernazza) yesterday afternoon when we arrived, but that plan went out the window when we couldn’t tear ourselves away from this charming town.

So, here it is 9:30 am in this lovely room in shangri-la with the sound and smell of the sea air lulling us back to sleep. The night before we cracked the top of the downstairs bonus room window open so we could hear/smell the sea. Early in the morning…it was our alarm clock.

The combination of too much CT white wine last night and the relaxation of being in such an idyllic state made us lazy. We dragged ourselves out of bed after reminiscing about our fabulous first night in Vernazza the night before. It just couldn’t get any better…..or could it?

We checked the train schedule and planned to take the 10:26 to Riomaggiore (which I’ll refer to as Rio), the southernmost CT town. We dressed and took a peek out on the terrace. The sea was as beautiful as the day before and the weather was perfect hiking weather….not too chilly, not too warm and clouds in the sky. I took a seat on the terrace and jotted (or shall I say chicken scratched) a few notes in my “journal” (which was really just sheet after sheet of paper capturing whatever is on my mind). I heard the bells pealing and the glorious sounds of children happily playing on the playground behind the train station.

The rest of CT was waiting to be explored and the hiking trails were beckoning us so….down the stairs into town we went. Our first encounter at the bottom of the steps was the trio of resident cats. Such the life!

<b><u>VERNAZZA….IS THIS PLACE FOR REAL?</u></b>
The 10:26 train was a pipe dream once we stepped foot onto town. The town was bustling as it was still waking up. We recognized a few locals who were opening their shops, having a chat, etc.

The most interesting thing we witnessed was this contraption (like a flatbed cart) loaded with construction supplies or provisions that would climb the stairs aided by an operator who would guide it from behind. It looked like something like the Mars Rover. Pretty cool! A bit innovative for a rustic ol’ village. DH was fascinated by this thing and we took photos and he had to video tape it in action (of course).

Funny, our whole reasoning for coming to the Cinque Terre was hiking, hiking and more hiking. Now we were finding ourselves under Vernazza’s spell. Truly, I could care less if we hiked now. I just wanted to savor and hang out in this picturesque town eating every flavor of focaccia (which the fresh baked smells were wafting in the air) and CT’s own white wine (oh, and some pesto lasagna).

<b><u>MY PERFECT MEMOIR</u></b>
Everyone seemed to know each other. I saw a boutique that looked of interest opening up, so we scambled over. It was called <b>“Storie in Italy”.</b> An artisan boutique filled with great local objets d’ art. My kinda shop! The artist is a local Vernazzan and his wife an Americano from San Francisco. My mind wanders as I imagine that they had this illicit romance when she traveled solo backpacking through Italy. The artist, Antonio Greco, creates an incredible line of jewelry made up of artistic photo charms (hence the name Storie in Italy) which he designs into works of art. These were anything but cheesy charms (have you guessed that I’m slightly picky yet?). Each bronzed framed charm was engraved in the back with the words “Storie in Italy”.

A necklace caught my eye and was priced at 59E. It was a lariat style with 2 charms that dangled on varying length bronzed chains separated by a deep ruby oblong shaped bead. This was something I had to have…..a done deal.

I was eyeballing another charm from another necklace that was a photo of my beloved Vernazza harbor awash with its colorful buildings. A gal who helps Antonio saw how much I admired the charm and offered to replace one of the charms on my necklace for that one. Perfecto! Next, I spied a bracelet with 5 charms. I asked if they could customize the charms for me. No problemo they said and out came a box full of charms. I was in <u>sheer heaven.</u> DH was looking over my shoulder and he asked if he could buy me this bracelet as a memoir of our trip. You bet! Selecting the charms proved to be a task as I couldn’t easily decide between the plethora of gorgeous choices.

I finally narrowed it down: Each of my 5 charms represented a town we visited on our trip: Venice: Gondola floating on an canal, Florence: Ponte Vecchio (I was digging in the box for the Duomo, but none struck my fancy), Tuscany: an angel statue, Cinque Terre: the colorful buildings of Vernazza. Since we were spending one night in Paris on our way home, naturally the last one….the Eiffel Tower. I was able to choose the beads (clear champagne color) in between and she suggested a smaller oval shaped charm that would dangle on a chain from the clasp. I selected Botticelli’s Venus as my “dangler”.

I was in heaven. I couldn’t wait to see the finished product. I was to pick it up on our last day in town.

Their website: http://www.storieinitaly.com/

<b><u>ANTONIO….OUR FIRST ENCOUNTER WITH THE TOWN CASANOVA</u></b>
We’re back on track after leaving the boutique and continue our short walk through town, through wafts of focaccia, through happy-go-lucky locals. Our breakfast is at Burgus Bar and Caf&eacute;’ which is at the end of the path, right on the harbor. Talk about location, location, location. We had a great time here last night and I’ve been looking forward to coming back.

I have a perma-grin on my face as I think about my newfound treasures. I feel eyes on me and turn to see this Italiano man with a flirty smile on his face. He raises his eyebrows and smiles bigger. As I look back at him, I notice that he knows everyone…possibly the town Mayor???? ……Meet Antonio (much more about him later!)

<b><u>BURGUS BAR AND CAF&Eacute;’</u></b>
The harbor is a scene with provisions and supplies being delivered, with locals gathered and having a morning chat. I notice a delivery guy w/ hand truck stacked high with boxes of CT’s white wine….all for Burgus.

We follow him into Burgus and are greeted by the gal behind the bar area. She’s quiet, but friendly and speaks some English. We show her our La Mala breakfast coupons and she points us to a glass case filled with pastries, focaccia, etc. She tells us to help ourselves and asks us what we’d like to drink. We both say “Verde Te’”. (Green Tea). We are given these darling handmade fish plates for our baked goods…one in pale turquoise and the other butter yellow. You know me by now…I want to take some home!

We take a table (at one of its only 3 tables) which has a ringside view to the happenings just outside the door. I love this place. Great tunes are playing and it feels good to be here. Our server brings over a teapot, cups, saucers and glasses of juice. Everything looks so lovely like it was styled this way and all meant to be. The sugar packets look perfect in the cute ivory matching handmade fish bowl. For a moment I think…..this is no sleepy rustic fishing village!

I take a bite of both focaccia and then of the buttery custard filled croissant. Next, finish off with a sip of tea. I look at DH and we are truly satisfied to be right where we are. A harbor with stories to tell and a great little town bar/caf&eacute;’. The gal from the “Storie in Italy” boutique comes in to get her caffe’. She recognizes us and we chat a bit. A few more stop in for their morning “fuel”.

Naturally…..everyone knows each other. Antonio has even made his way down by the harbor and is just outside doing what he does best: socializing and making googly eyes with his big smile when I look his way.

DH and I look at each other and just grin from ear to ear knowing that we have 2 more mornings here….same time, same place.

<b>Next….12:21 train to Riomaggiore (finally!)</b>

adventureseeker is offline  
Old Apr 8th, 2008, 11:59 PM
  #132  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 9
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Aloha Adventureseeker,

Your words are bringing back such wonderful memories of La Mala and Vernazza--looking forward to the next installment! (And you're right abouth the &quot;welcoming committee&quot;, those cats may be the most photographed in Italy!)--Mike
lanaimike is offline  
Old Apr 9th, 2008, 12:21 AM
  #133  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 750
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Aloha Mike,

Ah, such memories. Makes me want to go back pronto!

I have to ask.....did you meet Antonio while there?
adventureseeker is offline  
Old Apr 9th, 2008, 02:18 AM
  #134  
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 91
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I cant wait to read the rest adventure seeker!! 5 weeks today we fly out - Im so excited but its so difficult not giving away anything to my bf lol!

I love all ure detail on venazza and the cinque terre - we are staying in a room owned by 'Il Porticciolo' restaurant in Manarola but guessing we will spend time in each of the towns - expecting it to be a very special leg of the trip Thanks for the tip for getting the boat to portofino, do you know if there is there somewhere we could ask about that when we arrive? Difficult to get much info from the websites.

Well done again on such an enjoyable read x x
carolemg is offline  
Old Apr 9th, 2008, 06:24 AM
  #135  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 750
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Carolemg,

There is a Parco Nazionale (Nat'l Park) office at each train station which will have all the info you need for boat/train/hiking travel.

Here's their website. http://www.parconazionale5terre.it/default.asp I couldn't find any definitive time schedules regarding the boat.

Our pass included unlimited access to the trails/trains between towns during our stay. I recall there was also an option that included unlimited ferry service as well.

On our last full day in CT, we took the boat from Monterosso to Rio. It was stunning to see all these quaint villages from the water and the hiking trails we were just on.

I bet you're excited and good for you for keeping a secret. I would be bursting to give it away.

Manarola is lovely....all the towns have their very own personality and charm. I wish we had time to explore more. Next time!

Ciao.....for now!
A/S.
adventureseeker is offline  
Old Apr 10th, 2008, 12:01 AM
  #136  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 750
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
<b>CINQUE TERRE-PART 5

DAY 8 (October 18, 2007 Thursday)…<i>continued</i>

Grazie for bearing with me during my last post that concentrated heavily (maybe too much so) on my treasured memoirs and Burgus bar/cafe'....I'll NOW get back to the meat of the report:

<u>RIOMAGGIORE (finally!)</u></b>
We hopped aboard the 12:11 (yup, it’s the 12:11, not 12:21 that I inaccurately mentioned in the previous post…sorry!) train to Rio and were there within 7 minutes. The train schedules are all over CT and at the Parco Nazionale offices at each station. We also made sure to pick up the free color map at the Parco office which had more extensive info about all the trails besides the popular “blue” trail.

(Note about our hiking plan: after researching on these boards, it was recommended to hike South to North due to the amount of stairs and/or hardship of the hike…so that’s what we did. Start in the Southermost town: Riomaggiore)

Rio was another great little town which seemed more serene and peaceful than it's energetic sister: Vernazza. We’re getting the feeling that each of these 5 lands will have it’s very own charm and personality. Rio seemed larger than Vernazza since the main part
of town sat behind the train station.

As we made our way upwards (the town is on a slight grade), we spy a <b>CT museum</b> (free). We’re on no time schedule now so we check it out. The 2 volunteers overseeing this small gem were happy to answer questions and tell us about their native land. It was neat to see all the old photographs of CT and its people. The towns all looked the same, just awash in color. There was a short film we watched which covered the history of the towns. We were here for about 20 min.

Up the town a bit farther we see a typical looking Italiano grocer <i>alimentari</i> (with baskets of colorful produce outside it’s door)…..dying to have its photo taken (which, I so obliged). Next to it, a caf&eacute;’, which doubled as a focaccia shop. We could have closed our eyes and our noses would’ve found their way. Offered were freshly baked focaccia of every flavor imaginable: herb, olive, roasted peppers, garlic, veggie, cheese, etc. I was still stuffed from breakfast, but DH had to have a slice. He chose olive. Naturally, I had a few bites (uh, maybe even half) of it. It melted in my mouth. I can still taste it. The perfect blend of crusty and airy with a smattering of sea salt. YUM! You can only imagine that focaccia in CT where it’s birthplace is the Ligurian Coast tastes like no other focaccia anywhere else…the same holds true for the pesto which they say the secret is in it’s locally grown basil. I am now truly understanding the concept of regional Italian food and how every region has its very own &quot;shining stars&quot;. I recently read about a survey that more travelers come to Italy to enjoy it's food more than it's sights. A gastronomic's paradise indeed!

Okay, enough about the food...I'm getting hungry writing this.

Noticeably, there are a lot of cats in Rio. One here, one there. I especially like the cat which sat smack dab in the middle of a bench claiming it’s territory.

We see a church on the mountainside and decide to walk up and take a peek. Again there are the same winding stairs and alleyways, but not anywhere near as steep as those mazes heading up to our La Mala inn. We take a left and walk up a pathway where the church is located.

The church is even more lovely as we get closer. It was perfectly weathered and reminiscent of the kind of churches you would picture in a town like this. The name of the church: <b>San Giovanni Battista</b>. We peer inside and are struck by the old world smells and quietness. There is not a soul around.

Stunning views abound as walk up higher. The pathway snakes around to the top of this mountainside. As we get higher, the views are more stunning. This is a photographer’s paradise (which all of CT is!). At the top is a small school <i>scuole</i> on one side and a small chapel (which can hold 2 dozen people) on the other side. It’s a gorgeous church with beautiful peeling plaster, old yet glistening chandelier and rustic wooden pews. Yup, another kodak moment! We both comment how much we’re enjoying the serenity and beauty of this town. So, the verdict is in…if we can’t stay in Vernazza, Rio is our second choice.

Off to the south of where we are we see a large church we believe is a part of the “Sanctuary Trail”. It’s quite lovely from where we stand. (note: during the course of our hiking I enjoy taking photos of landmarks such as these which get smaller and smaller as we hike farther away from them.) I’m already regretting that we’re spending just a short 3 more days here. Our plan only allowed to conquer the popular “blue trail” and a few diversions. I know we would’ve loved to add the “Sanctuary Trail” to our list….next time!

Around the bend is a beautiful cove below with craggy cliffs and clear blue-green waters. We see a garden and a cat peacefully napping. We’re careful to be quiet as not to disturb it. From around the other side on the pathway comes an older Italian woman. She sees me watching the sleeping cat and begins to yell at the cat to wake it up. DH and I look at each other thinking “oh no”. When her yelling isn’t successful, she picks up a rock and throws it near the cat. The cat is startled and now awake. She laughs heartily. I wouldn’t want to meet her in a dark alley!

<b><u>GORGEOUS RIOMAGGIORE MARINA</u></b>
We decide it’s time (actually way past time) to start our hike. I read many wonderful things about a hike south of Rio called <b>Torre Guardiola</b>. This was one of our “diversion hikes” which would take about 90 min. round trip. We figured we could begin walking it and turn around sooner if we liked.

We head back into town and down to the marina. Our first impression: another very picturesque setting with a few small caf&eacute;’s with towering colorful buildings surrounding it. This little marina had a myriad of architectural details and rustic features galore. I snapped a few old doors with rusty hardware and peeling paint. Again…I’m thinking we nix the hiking and have a seat at one of these cute caf&eacute;’s and just take in the ambiance.

Old wooden boats are bobbing in the marina and the water is that clear CT blue-green. We take the walkway that borders the waterfront and see great white marble??? boulders. It’s a beautiful juxtaposition of color and texture. It’s hard to stay focused on the walk when I want to capture every corner, every step, etc. We continue the walk and see the ferry boat landing and what looks to be the trailhead for Torre Guardiola.

As we look beyond we see the wooden railing snaking low around the mountain. What seems special about this trail is that it is close to the sea whereas the other main trails are higher up. I’m looking forward to this. We stop dead in our tracks as the gate is locked with a sign that the trail is closed. BUMMER!

Disappointedly, we turn around and walk back. We’re informed that the main headquarters of CT is right here in Rio. We locate it and step in to talk to them about the closed Torre G. trail. We’re told (in very broken English) that the Torre G. trail is closed from the Rio access, but we can shuttle to the next town South of Rio and hike from that end.

<b><u>THE LOVER’S WALK-VIA DELL’ AMORE</u></b>
We’re unsure of both this next town and the whole shuttle system and having to turn around to catch a shuttle back to Rio sounded a bit more complicated than what we wanted to do with a late start. So…we decide to begin the “blue trail” beginning with the ever so popular (and short) Via dell’ Amore (aka The Lover’s Walk) which takes all of 20 minutes on more of a concrete path than a hiking trail.

We are directed to the tunnel which leads to the trailhead. The short lighted tunnel had a colorful mosaic tile mural and arty colorful tiles throughout. It was all eye candy. We continue on and come to the Parco Nazionale booth where they check our pass. As we make our way on the trail, we’re enjoying the views of the craggy mountainside and CT blue-green waters (hmm…..I think Martha Stewart should coin a paint color called “Cinque Terre blue-green”!), but quite frankly, I’m not overly impressed as I was envisioning a more rustic trail. But, alas, I had to remind myself that others who weren’t able to do the more strenuous hikes could enjoy the beauty of the CT by easily walking this “path”. DH is getting romantic (it is the Lover’s Walk, after all) and takes my hand. Just then from behind us….we hear a guy, with his wife who says, “No hand holding allowed”.

Meet Mark &amp; Briana…..our soon-to-be BFF’s (Best Friends Forever) and partners in crime/adventure.

<b>Next….Hike to Corniglia via Volastra, our new BFF’s and getting lost in the Italian Pine Forest!

</b>
adventureseeker is offline  
Old Apr 10th, 2008, 02:39 AM
  #137  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,059
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks for coming back to finish the report. I'll be in the CT next month! Can't wait to hear the rest of your report.
BarbaraS is offline  
Old Apr 10th, 2008, 04:19 AM
  #138  
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 121
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Is it just me or does Adventureseeker do one heck of a job keeping us all in suspense waiting for the next edition of her trip report ???

Thank you again for such a detailed description of your trip. I feel like I am in Italy with you.
Greekgazoo is offline  
Old Apr 10th, 2008, 05:16 AM
  #139  
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 91
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks for that link adventure seeker - lots of useful info there!

Yeah u def have us all hooked with this report I can't wait to see the cinque terre sea and scenery and taste the scrummy food for myself!

Looking forward to reading the rest! x x x
carolemg is offline  
Old Apr 10th, 2008, 06:50 AM
  #140  
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 11
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks, Adventureseeker, for info on the LaMala Inn. Tried to get in there, but they're booked - no surprise.

Your trip reports are fantastic - thank you for taking time to share in such detail. You paint a vivid picture!

Vernazza sounds wonderful, but I can't find anything available for my daughter's trip (May 15- 18 in CT). So, based on your comments about Rio, I've booked a room for them there at the Locanda dalla Compagnia. If anyone has information on this inexpensive little in, please let me know.

Thanks!
jan
janok is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Your Privacy Choices -